April 4, 2001

Third Annual UCSD Christini Fund Golf Tournament
To Continue Support of Breakthrough
in Mitochondrial Disease Research

Padres Pitcher Trevor Hoffman is Honorary Chairman

The third annual UCSD Christini Fund Golf Tournament is scheduled for Friday, July 13 at Maderas Golf Club in Poway and proceeds from the tournament will again support the crucial research being done at UCSD School of medicine regarding mitchondrial disorders.

Participants in last year's UCSD Christini Fund Golf Tournament helped raise over $70,000, enabling a UCSD research scientist to achieve a breakthrough that has given doctors a greater understanding of mitochondrial disorders in both children and adults.

"Going into our third year, I believe the UCSD Christini Fund Golf Tournament has established itself as a very fun event for a truly worthy cause. But what's really special for those participating in this event is that they can see from year to year that their support directly affects tangible results," said Debbie Shimizu, founder of the Christini* Fund. "After our first tournament, UCSD was able to hire a research scientist dedicated to mitochondrial disease research. Last year, this scientist made noteworthy progress. After this year's tournament I hope, for those affected by mitochondrial disease, that we will be able to report another significant breakthrough."

Mitochondrial medicine is a brand new field which focuses on the role of mitochondrial failure in devastating disorders. Found in every cell in the human body, mitochondria convert food and air into the energy needed by cells to function. When mitochondria fail to generate sufficient energy or do not perform their task in specific tissues, often several organ systems are affected in sequence, one faltering or failing after another. If a person is stricken with a catastophic disease affecting three or more organ systems, he or she may have a mitochondrial disease.

Hired with the help and support of the Christini Fund, UCSD's mitochondrial disease research scientist has been able to clone three of the genes used by cells to make mitochondrial DNA, establishing an important link between the ways our body responds to infection and the progression of mitochondrial disease. Another important milestone has been the recent establishment of "The Christini Trial," a clinical trial named for Shimizu's two-year old daughter who succumbed to mitochondrial disease.

"It was only fitting that the United States' first multi-center, collaborative treatment trial for mitochondrial disease be named for Christine Shimizu," said Robert Naviaux, M.D., Ph.D., founder and co-director of UCSD's Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center (MMDC). "The Christini Fund has been so instrumental in bringing greater awareness to mitochondrial disease."

"We are honoring the memory of Christini by putting her name on a clinical trial that we hope will yield an effective new drug for the treatment of mitochondrial disease," said Dr. Naviaux. "Beyond the discovery of a new drug, the Christini Trial will create a network of experienced mitochondrial centers around North America that will dramatically accelerate future drug discovery for mitochondrial disease."

The Christini Fund was established by the Shimizu family in the memory of Christine, who at 11 months of age was diagnosed with the most lethal form of mitochondrial disease called Leigh's Syndrome. The disease, which causes damage to critical areas of the brain that control breathing, blood pressure, appetite, and coordination, claimed Christini's life shortly after her second birthday.

Proceeds from the Third Annual UCSD Christini Fund Golf Tournament will support research being done at UCSD's Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center. The MMDC was established in 1996 as a direct outgrowth of almost 30 years of experience and leadership in biochemical genetics at UCSD. The MMDC combines three essential elements of medical progress---diagnosis, treatment, and research---at a single center of medical excellence. Patient care is at the heart, and research is at the foundation of the MMDC.

Golfers can participate in the Third Annual UCSD Christini Fund Golf Tournament with a donation of $225 per person, or $750 per foursome. The event includes a day of golf, contests, lunch, gifts, prizes, dinner, opportunity drawings and live and silent auctions. The tournament is a scramble format with a 1 p.m. shotgun start at Maderas Golf Club in Poway. For more information, please call Debbie Shimizu at (858) 350-6343.

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*Christini is the family's nickname for Christine.

Media Contact: Debbie Shimizu
Founder, Christini Fund

UCSD Media Contact: Kate Deely Smith

UCSD Health Sciences Communications Healthbeat